I think I signed up to Facebook for the same reason as everyone else: To stalk anyone I knew who was also on Facebook. I suspect this to be the reason why I took about one year longer than my other MSN/Friendster/Multiply buddies to sign up. I figured that at least if I was fashionably late, then I’d have plenty of people to watch and judge stalk ;) As I recall, I don’t think there was much need for privacy settings when I joined. I think it used to be that if you added a location/area (e.g. Leeds or London) to your profile, then you were able to view other’s also in your area – that didn’t last (thankfully). I never added a location to my profile until I was certain they had rid of this ridiculous function. I do remember being able to set who could view/add me though: Everyone or Friends of Friends. That was probably my first privacy control.
Then Facebook introduced lists. It was a bit like the MSN Messenger contacts group function. You can sort all your friends into customised categories: Uni, Home, Work, Family etc. There was also a very helpful pre-set group named ‘Limited Profile.’ Around the same time I also discovered the Block setting – I’m a big big fan of the blocking feature. Partly because a) I don’t want certain people to see what I’m up to, even from a 3rd degree distance, but primarily because b) I don’t want to know anything about what these certain people might be up to.
The next thing I did was add people to my Limited Profile list. These were people who I knew, but I felt I wouldn’t be comfortable being honest (i.e. blunt and tactless -!) with.
Finally, I set about organising all my friends into categories. The intention behind this was just incase one day I wanted to share something on my Facebook that I wouldn’t want, for example, family, ex-colleagues, or uni mates seeing. As it happened though, I’ve never really put anything on my Facebook that I was not happy to share (more on this later), so I’ve never actually used my lists for anything that categorising. Bit of a wasted effort tbh…!
Then late last year, Facebook created new, easier-to-use privacy settings. Well, they say it’s easier, but it is only easier if you took the time to use the original settings anyway. If not then the new settings were to all intents and purposes just as difficult to use as the previous settings (!).
So what do we have now in our arsenal of privacy controls?
Well. We have preset lists into which we can sort our Facebook ‘friends’: Close Friends, Acquaintances, Restricted. It’s fairly self-explanatory. I sort any business ‘people’ (you know the sort that have a business name rather than their actual name, and should actually have an FB page, and not a profile? *tut tut* at the rule breakers :p) into the Restricted category. They literally view my profile page with as much information as is available to a public stranger on FB.
I then placed all the people I consider to be acquaintances in to the Acquaintances list. Sounds obvious I know, but how you classify an acquaintance is what makes this tricky. The key here is to really understand how you use your Facebook. Do you use it as a personal photo/video/diary type blog? Do you use it for publicity purposes? Or do you only use it to look at others, whilst never actually updating very much about yourself?
My hubs has a Facebook profile – but he seldom uses it. He has updated his status I think twice. And used it to contact his cousin who lives abroad maybe 3 times. That’s it. He has no need for grouping his friends into categories as he has no information on display that may require limiting. Similarly, if you only used your Facebook profile for publicity purposes then again, you wouldn’t need to categorise your friends as your intention should/would be to just ensure your message reaches as many people as possible. I, on the other hand, use my Facebook profile as a personal blog. I update with photos, videos, thoughts, links to pertinent issues on a very frequent basis. There are a few things that I choose to only share with close friends – these are people who know my children, and know where I live, but most of what I share I am happy to share with all my Facebook friends (Acquaintances). I’m not, however, willing to share any of my updates with a business, hence the Restricted listing.
Basically, it’s all common sense :)
How to add your friends to lists
It’s quite easy to add your friends to lists – presuming you have already switched to the Timeline layout (which, by the way, you should have by now because quite frankly, I love it). However, if you have over 100 friends it can be a tad time consuming sorting all.
Here’s how to do it:1) Go to your profile page
2) Select ‘Friends’ (just under your cover photo)
3) Hover your mouse over a friend’s name until a menu box appears – then move your mouse over the ‘Friends’ box in the bottom right of the menu. A drop down menu should appear with a choice of lists.
4) Select “Show all lists” and click/select the list you would like to put your friend under.
How to control who can view your updates
This part is very easy.
From your update box you will see a ‘Friends’ drop down button in the bottom right, just next to the blue ‘Post’ button. Whenever you update with a status, photo, link or so on, click on the ‘Friends’ drop down menu and select your preferred audience. Easy peasy!
How to check how your Facebook profile displays to the public1) From your homepage, click on the small downwards arrow in the top right hand corner (next to ‘Home’)
2) Select ‘Account Settings’
3) In the list of menu option on the left hand side of the following screen, select ‘Subscribers’
4) Click on “Want to know what subscribers can see? View your public timeline.” in the centre of the screen. This will take you a ‘This is how your Timeline looks to the public.’ version of your profile page, which is how it would be viewed by a passing Facebook stranger.
You can also check how individual Facebook friends view your page if you enter their names in the ‘Enter a friend’s name’ box.
If you find that you are uncomfortable with the amount of information on view to the public then I would highly recommend editing your Privacy Settings using the following steps…
Using your Privacy Settings1) From your homepage, click on the small downwards arrow in the top right hand corner (next to ‘Home’)
2) Select ‘Privacy Settings’. This will take you to a new page where you will be able to edit your settings.
3) ‘Control Your Default Privacy’ – This is the setting that controls how your updates from your Facebook app (on android/blackberry/iPad etc) will appear. This is particularly helpful for apps that do not allow you to select your audience when updating. 4) ‘How you connect’ – click on ‘edit settings’ to control who can look up your timeline by name, who can look you up using the email address or phone number you provided and who can send you friend requests or messages. Have a fiddle with the options until you are happy with your settings. Click ‘Done’ to save before going on to the following options to repeat the process… 5) ‘Timeline and Tagging’ 6) ‘Apps and websites’ 7) ‘Limit the Audience for Past Posts’ 8) ‘Blocked People and Apps’
Once you have edited all these settings, you will very nearly be done. But if like me you checked how your profile can be viewed by the public, you will notice that all the pages that you have ‘Liked’ or Favourite’d through your years on Facebook are still open to public view. For me, that was not good. So, finally…
Editing privacy on your ‘Likes’1) From your Facebook profile page, click on your ‘Likes’ (should be below your cover photo). You’ll be taken to a Favourites page. 2) Click on ‘Edit’ (on the right of the screen, probably below a ‘Suggestions’ button). This will open up edit options for each of the Favourites you have accumulated. 3) Use the drop down arrow menu to the right of your Favourites/Pages to control who will be able to see them on your profile page. Take special note of the last item “Other Pages you like” as this setting will apply to all the other miscellaneous Likes/TV shows/random articles you may have ‘Liked’ while surfing.
Perform a final check on how your your public timeline looks and you’re done!
You are now ready to leave the computer and rejoin the real world, confident in the knowledge that your Facebook is now firmly under control…
Or join Twitter. *cough*